What if Charles Murray is right? What if some of the various racial gaps in cognitive performance are due to genetics? Would that be the end of the world?
It is considered appropriate to hyperventilate as if you believe so.
On the other hand, what if Murray is wrong and his best critic, James Flynn, is right? Would that validate traditional liberal approaches to bridging The Gap?
Vox recently ran a long article by three professors entitled “Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ.” It was full of bluster about how “There is currently no reason at all to think that any significant portion of the IQ differences among socially defined racial groups is genetic in origin.”
But if you read the long article closely, you”d have discovered that what it was really about was how Murray is right and the conventional wisdom is wrong on (at least) 80 percent of the scientific issues:
(1) Intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, is a meaningful construct that describes differences in cognitive ability among humans.
(2) Individual differences in intelligence are moderately heritable.
(3) Racial groups differ in their mean scores on IQ tests.
(4) Discoveries about genetic ancestry have validated commonly used racial groupings.
The three scientists admitted, in so many words, that they only disagreed with:
5) On the basis of points 1 through 4, it is natural to assume that the reasons for racial differences in IQ scores are themselves at least partly genetic.
The authors were clearly disturbed by the widespread assumption in media and academic circles that, as Vox might say, Charles Murray is “peddling junk science.” YET they agree with Murray about what the science says more than they agree with the Science Denialist orthodoxy. In their minds, the violent bigotry on campus against Murray is occluding awareness of reality and threatening the practice of science in what used to be called the free world.
I”m not going to get into the arguments over (5) here.
After all, we”ll know soon enough from advances in genomic research.
James D. Watson, the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA, ended his 2007 memoir Avoid Boring People with an anecdote about the acting president of Harvard, Derek Bok (who had stepped in for Lawrence Summers after Larry had come a cropper for being inappropriately well-informed about the difference in the variance of male and female bell curves), asking Watson worriedly about how soon until the scientific results are in on the genetic basis of IQ:
So I was not surprised when Derek asked apprehensively how many years would pass before the key genes affecting differences in human intelligence would be found. My back-of-the-envelope answer of “fifteen years” meant Summers” then-undetermined successor would not necessarily need to handle this very hot potato.
Or it might take, say, twice as long to figure out the causes of “differences in intelligence.” The subject is very complicated.
In any case, the scientific answer is coming. So we ought to try to think through the implications of either result.
(Of course, it will no doubt take decades after that for the upcoming scientific results to penetrate the smug shell of the conventional wisdom. Notice by way of analogy how the eye-rollingly stupid dogma that “race does not exist” has been spreading in this century even as high-tech genome analysis confirms what’s in front of our noses.)
In this essay, though, I want to consider the implication of what few seem to take seriously: What if the Arthur Jensen”Charles Murray line of speculation is wrong, and their finest scientific critic, James Flynn, turns out to be right that white-black differences in cognitive performance turn out to be due to what we might call a cultural cascade?
Jensen, a Berkeley psychologist, argued from 1969 onward that welfare programs were unlikely to close the white-black IQ gap because the socioeconomic status gap between whites and blacks, while considerable, is hardly large enough to account for the IQ difference.
Looking for a way to undermine this logic in the 1970s, Flynn, an American-born political philosopher in New Zealand, dug into the IQ data and noticed something he (and everybody else) hadn”t expected: that raw scores on IQ tests had tended to drift upward by 2 or 3 points per decade all around the world, requiring grading of the tests to be made tougher with each new edition.
There had long been intense debate over whether IQ tests can be comparable across space, but few academics had ever worried that they might be subject to significant changes over time.
Flynn wrote to Jensen to point this out. Jensen responded with four challenges to Flynn to demonstrate that this phenomenon of his was significant. Flynn dug further into the data and was able to largely meet them.
The two battling scholars became admirers of each other as they continued to debate the implications of Flynn’s findings over several decades. In The Bell Curve in 1994, Murray and Richard Herrnstein named Flynn’s discovery the Flynn Effect.
Flynn had hoped that his Effect would offer evidence that the white-black gap was not hereditary. After all, if raw IQ scores on tests were going up 2 or 3 points per decade, that couldn”t be genetic evolution. Some kind of nurture must be driving the change.
But after several decades of research, the Flynn Effect remains somewhat mysterious.
Not all that much has subsequently emerged from research into the Flynn Effect that appears specifically relevant to the race gap. On the other hand, the existence of the Flynn Effect should remind us that we don”t fully understand how the mind works and that the future can bring surprises.
My guess is that the Flynn Effect is related in part to an extended version of Moore’s Law. Even before the silicon chip was invented, information technology had been progressing rapidly since Gutenberg in the 1450s. The pioneers of IQ testing, such as Lewis Terman, designer of the Stanford-Binet test of a century ago, turned out to be strikingly correct about the most important skills of the future, such as processing data. I don”t think it’s a coincidence that Lewis” son, Fred Terman, long Stanford’s dean of engineering, has perhaps the best claim to be the Father of Silicon Valley.
In 2001, Flynn, working with economist William Dickens of the Brookings Institution, put forward a model of how minor genetic differences could lead to sizable differences in nurture. Unfortunately, Flynn chose to illustrate his theory using an example about basketball ability, a sport in which genetic differences are exceedingly obvious:
Take those born with genes that make them a bit taller and quicker than average. When they start school, they are likely to be a bit better at basketball. The advantage may be modest but then reciprocal causation between the talent advantage and environment kicks in. Because you are better at basketball, you are likely to enjoy it more and play it more than someone who is bit slow or short or overweight. That makes you better still…. You are more likely to be picked for your school team and to get professional coaching. Thanks to genes capitalizing on the powerful multiplying effects of the feedback between talent and environment, a modest genetic advantage has turned into a huge performance advantage.
I advised Flynn to change his example to soccer ability, but he stuck with basketball, despite its huge racial disparities, which I think hurt his model’s chance of catching on.
Last week’s suicide bombing in Manchester was the first Muslim terrorist attack on the West that didn”t make me angry or sad.
I”m still haunted by and livid about Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan, and Nice, to name only three. I still have nightmares”impotent dreams of vengeance, really”about September 11. But despite the youth of many Manchester victims, and their membership in my Anglospheric, Commonwealth tribe, I feel nothing”not even numb, because “numb” implies sensation.
My feelings, or lack thereof, I only mention because I”ve heard friends and total strangers say the same thing, too. And this outbreak of outrage fatigue has coincided with”to an even greater degree than usual”a widespread determination to praise or condemn other people’s reactions to the attack, and then the reactions to those reactions, rather than the attack itself (and, it goes without saying”literally”all the Muslims behind it, going back to Muhammad himself).
One reaction in particular: U.K. pundit Katie Hopkins didn”t even use the “I-word” in what I”m amusing myself by calling her “Wannsee Conference” tweet:
22 dead – number rising. Schofield. Don”t you even dare. Do not be a part of the problem. We need a final solution #Machester.” [sic]
There are numberless noble reasons to bravely risk your job. Employing the wholly avoidable phrase “final solution” out of historical context isn”t one of them. That reckless decision cost Hopkins her radio gig, drew attention away from her fine Daily Mail column about the atrocity, and worst of all, gave quislings and squishes the hook they”d been looking for on which to hang their misplaced, wrong-size outrage.
The biggest dick in this most recent Katie Hopkins gang rape was attached to”surprise!”a Guardian writer, one Marina Hyde.
Hyde started out praising one victim’s brother’s fondly affectionate yet dark-humored quips on Twitter, after the poor young man’s name started “trending.” Fine. But then Hyde weirdly counsels the rest of the nation to adopt an identical attitude.
A moment’s reflection might have prompted Hyde to reconsider her brain wave that every Briton should react to other people’s agony by tweeting things like “I was a little dubious about Martyn’s recent bold social media move. But it worked.”
For that’s what she’s counseling, intentionally or not:
Whatever our idealised “British values” are”and codifying them would obviously be appallingly against British values”they feel to me better embodied in the heroically black humour of Dan Hett in the days after his brother’s murder than in anything Katie Hopkins has said or written, ever.
Throughout the column, Hyde makes the case that being ever so archly witty about death and dismemberment (even the slaughter of strangers; even, apparently, children) is more patriotic, more reflective of traditional “British values,” than calling for the cessation of these atrocities, however clumsily and even obtusely.
Leftists enjoy quoting Johnson, that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” especially because the “scoundrel” is so rarely them. But here we have one, and a Guardianista, no less, wrapping herself in the flag, a fashion British leftists last felt socially obligated to adopt during World War II.
Speaking of which, Hyde also bashes those who, in the wake of these attacks, “trade in fake Churchill quotes.” Surely she can”t be referring to this very real one, but in any case, yes, every terrorist attack in England stirs up talk of the Blitz, just as Princess Diana’s funeral, going on twenty years ago, is still contrasted with Churchill’s, to considerable rhetorical, if not practical, effect.
(Admit it, guys: We”ve lost the war on teddy bears and the other dollar-store accoutrements of “makeshift memorials.” All we”ve done is condemn them, in often bracingly beautiful prose, but we”ve never offered the unchurched an attractive alternative, and so a generation later, trash is “tradition.”)
I”ve written about this here before, exactly four years ago, in fact. The prompting circumstance then was the uninterrupted slaughter of a British soldier, on a busy street, in broad daylight, by yet another Muslim savage”the anniversary of which, a few dared to notice, fell on the date of Ariana Grande’s Manchester gig.
And back then, I expressed this bitchy blasphemy:
Londoners” highly touted “courage” during the Blitz always struck me as mostly an extreme expression of the average Briton’s temperamental tilt toward weary resignation and inertia.
Since writing that, I learned something that seems awfully apposite just now:
We”ve all seen (and seen and seen) those “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters and related gift-store goodies. These nostalgic relics, we”re told, perfectly embody the English home-front spirit throughout WWII.
Except it turns out they sort of don”t.
The Ministry of Information printed these posters by the millions, but they were never plastered up. Rather, one copy was discovered in 2000 in a used bookstore, framed, and put on display behind the cash register, and the rest is pop culture history.
Adopted after 9/11 and, in particular, 7/7 as a whimsically defiant meme, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was, amusingly, judged an unsuitable morale-booster in its day.
By the time Air Force One started down the runaway at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, to bring President Trump home, the Atlantic had grown markedly wider than it was when he flew to Riyadh.
In a Munich beer hall Sunday, Angela Merkel confirmed it.
Europe must begin to look out for itself, she said, “take our fate into our own hands. … The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over.”
Merkel’s apprehensions are understandable. A divorce could be in the cards. During his visit to NATO in Brussels and the G-7 in Sicily, Trump, with both his words and body language, revealed his thinking on who are friends and who are freeloaders.
Long before arriving, Trump had cheered Brexit, the British decision to quit the EU, and shown a preference for nationalist Marine Le Pen in the French election won handily by Emmanuel Macron.
But when it comes to leaders, Trump seems to prefer Deke House to student council types. He has hailed Vladimir Putin as a “strong ruler” and “very smart.” In Riyadh, Trump declared King Salman a “wise man.” He calls China’s Xi Jinping “a great guy,” and welcomed Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Oval Office: “It is a great honor to have you with us.”
When Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has imprisoned and killed thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood, came to visit, Trump said, “He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.”
In a phone call, Trump also praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has had narcotics dealers gunned down in the streets, for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
Trump has even found merit in Kim Jong Un, the 33-year-old dictator of North Korea, describing him as a “a pretty smart cookie.”
And where Trump was photographed by the Russians grinning broadly with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, his confab with Merkel was marked by a seeming reluctance to shake hands.
But the disagreements with Europe are deeper than matters of style. Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have indicated that in dealing with foreign nations, U.S. support for democratic norms and human rights will now take a back seat to strategic interests.
In Riyadh, Trump signaled the Sunni King of Bahrain we will no longer be giving him instructions on how to treat his Shiite majority. We’re not “here to lecture,” Trump assured the Arab royals.
After the conclave, the king’s police killed five and wounded dozens of demonstrators outside the home of a Shiite cleric, and arrested 286 of his supporters.
Of greater concern to Trump and Tillerson is the retention of the Persian Gulf naval base of the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
Trump also tilts toward GOP skepticism of the threat of global warming and is considering pulling out of the Paris climate accord that is the altarpiece of the environmentalist international.
In Brussels, Trump praised NATO’s decision to back the U.S. war in Afghanistan after 9/11, but did not specifically recommit to Article 5, requiring all NATO nations to treat an attack on one as an attack on all, which our nervous NATO allies had wanted to hear.
Instead, they got an earful of pure Trump about how they owed back pay for NATO and that only five NATO nations were meeting their obligation to allocate 2 percent of GDP to defense.
Merkel seemed to take this as an implied threat that the U.S commitment to defend Europe from a Russia with one-tenth of NATO-Europe’s GDP may be contingent, and may have a time limit on it.
WASHINGTON”I would like to apologize in advance for not apologizing when people demand an apology.
Of course, when I don”t apologize, many people believe that my refusal to apologize means that I haven”t properly realized the depths of my evil, because the refusal itself is prima facie evidence that I”m even more depraved and clueless than originally believed, because surely all these repeated demands for me to apologize, increasing in volume and intensity, should have made me understand that I am wrong. The world took a vote and I lost, don”t I get that?
Furthermore, since I have persisted in refusing to apologize even after a third and fourth demand for my repentance goes unheeded, I must be forced to resign, paraded through the public stocks of social media, forever branded an unfeeling infidel Neanderthal who Just Doesn”t Get It when it comes to the business of offending people, and wiped off the face of the earth for not being willing to assuage feelings in the court of public opinion.
But it’s even worse. I also hold the view that, if you haven”t done or said anything wrong, or if you have simply misspoken, or if you have followed a policy that is proper to follow and yet people don”t like it, then an apology is the absolute worst thing you can do, because it is a lie.
I could cite a thousand examples of people apologizing, turning themselves into rank liars because they fear this or that rabid mob seeking their humiliation, but I”m going to deal with the three most recent and celebrated cases.
Numero Uno: The Pepsi Commercial.
The official legend: An ad agency hired by Pepsi creates a shallow, offensive commercial in which the Black Lives Matter movement is trivialized by implying that a professional model can bring peace and harmony to the world by offering a soft drink to an otherwise hard-hearted police officer at a protest march. The ad is pulled and Pepsi is forced to admit that they are insensitive, clueless corporate racists.
The actual facts of the matter: The commercial is an elaborate variation on a specific type of feel-good multicultural “world peace” message pioneered in 1971 when Pepsi rival Coca-Cola released a 60-second ad featuring people of all the races in the world standing on a mountaintop in Italy and singing “I”d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” with the opening line alternating with “I”d like to buy the world a Coke.” The song was used periodically by Coke for the next four decades, was recorded by several singers (minus the Coke references), and was tolerated, if not admired, as a way for a soft-drink company to glamorize the idea that all the people of the world are united, if not by their politics, then at least by their taste buds.
The Pepsi commercial strives for the exact same message. What do the protesters, the man playing a cello, Kendall Jenner, the Muslim female photographer, the guitarist, the Jamaican singer Skip Marley (“We are the lions/We are the chosen/We gonna shine out the dark”), the dancers, the transsexuals, and the dancing models all have in common?
Pepsi, of course.
All Coke did was teach the world to sing. Pepsi teaches the world to sing, dance, play the cello, revolutionize high fashion, create cool photography, and basically turn the entire urban landscape into performance art while including otherwise ostracized law-enforcement personnel in the vast vital sea of humanity that wants…what? We know from the protester’s sign what they want. They want us to JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
It doesn”t say BLACK LIVES MATTER. It says JOIN THE CONVERSATION. It’s generic. It’s the equivalent of a League of Women Voters march.
You can say it’s silly. You can say it’s poorly executed. You can say it’s confusing because of the rapidly shifting images. But one thing you can”t say is that it’s either racist or a parody of Black Lives Matter. It’s actually so multiracial and even multisexual that it’s painful.
Yet Pepsi apologized. What they should have said is “Since it’s a commercial, and since it’s been needlessly attacked on specious grounds, we”re going to withdraw it in order to protect our shareholders.”
By apologizing they turned Kendall Jenner into a public moron delivering a racist message.
Numero Two-o: The United Airlines Fracas.
The official legend: United Airlines overbooks a flight from Chicago to Louisville, and when there are no volunteers willing to give up their seats, the airline orders four people to get off the plane”but one of them refuses to go, so the police drag him off the plane, in the process brutalizing him, causing serious injury. Fortunately his appalled fellow passengers capture the entire episode on their iPhones, and the viral video forces United to apologize due to fears of a national boycott, pay a huge settlement to the passenger and his family, and refund the fares of everyone who was on the flight (presumably because they are traumatized by the beating).
The actual facts of the matter: The flight was not overbooked. United lied about that in its first statement to the media. It was the last flight of the day, and the airline needed the four seats for a United crew that would be flying out of Louisville the next morning.
And let’s not let United off the hook. The plane was flying 269 miles, it wasn”t flying to fricking Venezuela. You could have put the four crew members in an Uber car for $714.02, airport to airport, and when I looked up that fare Uber was having a surge, so it might have been even cheaper. That’s actually a savings of $2,485.98 over what United said it was willing to pay out in vouchers. Given a choice between inconveniencing employees and inconveniencing passengers, why not just do that? It would actually be poetic justice”one of the four crew members would have to take the dreaded middle seat.
But listen to the cascading apologies of United CEO Oscar Munoz.
First day: “We apologize for the overbook situation.” “It was an upsetting event.” The passenger was “disruptive and belligerent.”
Two out of three of these statements are true. If there’s any doubt about Dr. David Dao being disruptive and belligerent, it should disappear with this single fact:
He ran back onto the plane after the police removed him the first time.
He dared the airline personnel to “drag me off and take me to jail,” threatened to sue if they did, and he escalated from there. That’s not a rational person.
But here’s Oscar Munoz, day two: “We take full responsibility.”
The process of throwing the airline employees under the bus has begun, even though they were strictly following procedure. They offered vouchers, they told the four passengers they had to leave. They talked to him when he refused. They called airport security as a last resort.
Third day: “We deeply apologize to the customer.” Dr. David Dao has now become the hero, fighting the United thugs.
Fourth day: Oscar announces a companywide review of all policies involving crew movement, incentives for volunteers, and the company’s partnership with law-enforcement agencies. He’s in full retreat.
Fifth day: He can”t stop apologizing. Now he “feels shame.”
Sixth day: Every passenger on the flight gets a full refund.
Seventh day: Another apology to Dr. Dao.
Eighth day: Going on about the “harsh learning experience” and how he needs to change “training programs.”
Ninth day: “Heartfelt and deepest apologies” to Dr. Dao.
I”m not a fan of Mexican food, for reasons which should be obvious. Although I hold Mexicans in the highest esteem as a proud and noble (if exceedingly short) people, they tend to score poorly on standardized tests and have never invented much of note beyond nachos. I can”t think of a single Mexican comedian, musician, writer, or filmmaker who’s inspired me. To put it bluntly, I”ve never appropriated anything from them because I”ve never wanted to.
Portland, OR is one of the best American cities to enjoy from a distance. After all, it hosted what is easily one of my Top Three Favorite Hate-Crime Hoaxes of all time in the person of one Azalea Cooley, an allegedly cancer-stricken, wheelchair-bound black lesbian who wound up being the person who, when all was said and done, turned out to be the Mystery Klansman who was burning crosses in her own backyard.
Five years ago, a Hispanic Portland schoolteacher accused peanut-butter sandwiches of being sinister emblems of white privilege.
Now comes word that a pair of white female Portlanders have shut down their pop-up burrito cart after they were publicly tried, convicted, and hanged for the sin of cultural appropriation.
For a few months, Kooks Burritos shared a space with a taco truck in a parking lot somewhere in the self-accusingly white city of Portland. Its proprietors were Liz Connelly and Kali Wilgus, the latter of whose parents are undeniably guilty of culturally appropriating the name of a Hindu goddess of destruction”unless Ms. Wilgus called herself that, which makes her the guilty one.
Kooks Burritos was successful until a fateful May 16 interview with free local newspaper Willamette Week, which quoted Liz Connelly publicly”and without any apparent shame or remorse”confessing that she had been inspired to open her own burrito cart after a trip to Mexico:
I picked the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever, and they showed me a little of what they did. They told us the basic ingredients, and we saw them moving and stretching the dough similar to how pizza makers do before rolling it out with rolling pins. They wouldn’t tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into the windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look. We learned quickly it isn’t quite that easy.
I”m no mind-reader, but the vibes I catch rolling off of Connelly here seem to be self-effacing and deeply worshipful of Mexican culture. But since this is Portland, and since Portland is insane, this apparently well-meaning white woman was tossed into the furnace and subjected to a bout of public shaming that may force her to go on painkillers and collect cats for the rest of her life.
Writing in the competing free weekly The Portland Mercury, an adipose black woman who calls herself Jagger Blaec“and who may, in fact, have stolen the English-derived surname of The Rolling Stones” singer and appropriated it as her first name”subjected Willamette Week, the two burrito-vending white girls, and even the entire City of Portland to a furious bout of her disapproval:
Portland has an appropriation problem. This week in white nonsense, two white women”Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely”decided it would be cute to open a food truck….the owners of Kooks Burritos all but admitted in an interview with Willamette Week that they colonized this style of food….This is where things go from quirky to predatory….These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them…the recipes were stolen….Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly.
Ms. Blaec froths and fulminates about “marginalized identities” and “white perpetrators.” She even slams the sort of “super liberal white people” who hate themselves so much, they eagerly pay her to condemn their ilk in print.
As the inane “controversy” began to ripple out of Portland across America and even into England, the inanity only intensified. An absurdly reflective article in the Washington Post wondered, “Should white chefs sell burritos?“:
Portland, Ore., has become the epicenter in a growing movement to call out white people who profit off the culinary ideas and dishes swiped from other cultures.
The Week’s Most Improficent, Insufficient, and Inefficient Headlines
STUDY: ONLY WIMPS SUPPORT SOCIALISM
Conventional wisdom has always dictated that socialists tend to be weak, conformist, lily-livered, yellow-bellied, thumb-sucking, lollipop-licking, low-testosterone mammy’s babies who view the government as one giant teat upon which to suckle in the fetal position from cradle to grave.
Now comes a scholarly paper to establish that the conventional wisdom has been correct all along. Published in Evolution and Human Behavior, “Is sociopolitical egalitarianism related to bodily and facial formidability in men?“ finds a pronounced negative correlation between a man’s muscularity and his support for economic redistribution schemes.
Researchers examined nearly 200 men aged 18-40 and determined their “formidability” using such measures as height, weight, muscle circumference, and arm strength. According to a press release from Brunel University in London, the more macho the man, the less likely he was to be a commie pinko fag:
Physically stronger men are less in favour of social and economic equality than weaker men, new research from Brunel University London indicates….The results showed a significant correlation between those with higher bodily formidability and the belief that some social groups should dominate others. These men were also much less likely to support redistribution of wealth.
This news is so exciting it makes us want to eat a two-pound steak, bench-press 400 pounds, and deliver a punishing series of roundhouse kicks to Karl Marx’s corpse.
REPUBLICAN BODY-SLAMS HIS WAY TO VICTORY IN MONTANA
This is reporter Ben Jacobs. Does he look punchable to you? Yeah”he does to us, too.
In Montana last week on the eve of a runoff election between Republican millionaire Greg Gianforte and some Democrat folk singer who wears cowboy hats, Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly roughing up Ben Jacobs.
Gianforte, who courted minor trouble last month when he lamented that some reporters made him want to “wring their necks,” was allegedly in his office when Jacobs arrived unannounced and uninvited, which in most jurisdictions would constitute criminal trespassing, would it not? When Jacobs kept pressing him with questions even after Gianforte said that he would address the issues later, a scuffle ensued that was captured on audio. In a deep and masculine voice, Gianforte is heard telling Jacobs to “Get the hell out of here,” while Jacobs whimpers “You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses” like a little boy crying for his mommy on the first day of kindergarten.
A Fox News crew witnessed the incident. According to reporter Alicia Acuna:
Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.
On Thursday, Gianforte”despite, or perhaps even because of the fact that he body-slammed a reporter”edged the guy in the cowboy hat to seize Montana’s only seat in the US House of Representatives. Reporter Greg Jacobs is probably curled in a ball at the bottom of a hot shower, crying.
YOU DON”T HAVE TO BE RACIST TO BE RACIST (BUT IT HELPS)
Affinity magazine was created by a black female teenager with a really strange head to address the social-justice and intersectional issues that constantly plague strange-headed black teenagers in a society that oppresses and demonizes them because it’s sick and white.
A recent headline from Affinity is easily the most Orwellian of the year”and possibly the century. In “You Don”t Have To Be Racist To Be Racist,” a certain Evin Zendejas”an 18-year-old Boy of Color who has apparently decided that your teens are no time to have fun and instead describes himself as an “Activist fighting for human rights and equality amongst all groups by spreading awareness about societal issues””opines thusly:
Surprise! Racism does not always come from the minds of racists…abstract liberalism, naturalism, cultural racism, and minimization of racism are at the core of color-blind racism. Racism never went away, it just became harder to identify….Once a social bias is destroyed, society gets one step closer to eliminating racial discrimination due to less [sic] people spreading the negative ideals and more people being educated on the effects of discrimination and why they can cause people of color to feel anger toward those trying to suppress them.
You don”t have to be stupid to be stupid, either”but it obviously helps.
CHINESE DISDAIN FOR THE WESTERN “WHITE LEFT”
Chinese netizens”who have disproportionately high IQs and laughably small penises”have a slang word to describe what we here in the West would call social-justice warriors, libtards, and limousine liberals. The term is baizuo, which translates as “white left.” According to Chinese writer Chenchen Zhang:
Although the emphasis varies, “baizuo” is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
Zhang says that the first Western figure to be smeared as a baizuo was the childless sea hag Angela Merkel. He says a corollary term to baizuo is shengmu“which translates as “holy mother” and refers to people who “have too much empathy.” The best Western synonym for shengmu would be “special snowflake.”
You know you are getting old when even the judges look young; but another sign of aging is a failure to understand the humor of the young, a failure that on my part now goes back at least two decades. The things that the young laugh at nowadays escape me entirely. They seem to me offensive and banal in equal measure, an undesirable combination that is not easy to achieve.
A friend drew my attention recently to the case of a Scottish comedian, apparently very famous but previously unknown to me, called Markus Meechan. He posted a video on YouTube that shows him trying to teach his girlfriend’s dog, a pug, how to be a Nazi. Apparently, many people found this hilariously funny.
The Scottish police, however, arrested him for offending against some inherently arbitrary law or other, and now he faces trial and possible imprisonment for up to a year. This is so ludicrous and sinister that I leave it up to others to huff and puff about it. One cannot always confine oneself to hitting the easiest targets.
What struck me most about Mr. Meechan, however, was that (according, at least, to the photographs that I saw of him) he had managed to make himself uglier than his girlfriend’s pug, which is again no mean achievement. No doubt he”Mr. Meechan, not the dog”was unfavored by nature (as so many of us indeed are), but it took some determination on his part to look quite as hideous as he manages to do. In this, however, he was only showing how deeply conventional was his mind, for such primitive self-mutilation as he indulges in has now become a mass phenomenon. If dandyism had been the fashion, he would no doubt have been a dandy; but unfortunately the fashion is now to make oneself look like a barbarian attacking the Roman legions on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall. There is nothing as feeble as the human mind when it is in the grip of the desire to be fashionable.
Much as my inner authoritarian would like to see Mr. Meechan imprisoned for criminal ugliness and crimes against beauty (and his girlfriend taken into protective custody for her own good, for in my clinical experience women who are attracted to men of this appearance are attracted to others, and come to a miserable end), my attachment to personal liberty forces me to advocate that he be left at liberty to increase the ugliness of his surroundings and say what he likes.
Now, according to the one article about the affair that I read on the internet (and therefore it must be trustworthy), Mr. Meechan has been picked on, or persecuted, by the police because he is famous only on the internet and not on the stage or on television. That is to say, he is not a celebrity in the full (or should I say empty?) sense of the word. According to the author of the indubitably trustworthy article, another Scottish comedian, this one more of a true celebrity, called Frankie Boyle, has made jokes just as offensive as Mr. Meechan’s without being bothered by the police. There is thus one law for celebrities and another for everyone else.
How far this is true I do not know, and do not much care. What struck me in the article was the offensive joke that the author cited that had not drawn the attention of the police to the comedian who made it. Frankie Boyle said of the Palestinian situation that it was like “a cake being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.”
Whatever you think of the Palestinian situation, this joke is not (at least to me) funny because the image it conjures up is clumsy, inapt, inexact, and unilluminating. There is no wit in it. Compare it with a joke that some might find anti-Semitic (at least when not told by a Jew), but which is funny:
Mr. Cohen dies and his widow wants to put an announcement in the “Jewish Chronicle.” Told that announcements cost a pound a word, she suggests “Cohen dead.” Told that the minimum is five words, therefore five pounds, she suggests “Cohen dead. Volvo for sale.”
Although both guilt and innocence fascinate me, I’m not so sure there is such a thing as redemption. I know, it sounds very unchristian, but there you have it. For me, bad guys remain bad, and good guys ditto. In the meantime, I didn’t make it to Rupert Deen’s memorial service, nor that of my first Spectator editor, Alexander Chancellor—two friends not known for feeling too guilty, nor for their innocence, come to think of it. I’m still in the Bagel and need to stay because at my advanced age I’m finishing the last part of a TV show, or perhaps a film (as yet untitled, about two pre-embalmed society figures), produced by Graydon Carter, the VF honcho and Donald Trump’s leading cheerleader.
Mind you, those friends who have met the man in the white suit could do worse than have my old boss, Algy Cluff, pay tribute to them. Reminiscing about Rupert, Algy brought the house of God down with his icy, Jeeves-like wit about Deen and his family. It seems Rupert’s mother was a replica of Mrs. Wilberforce from The Ladykillers, rather absentmindedly greeting Christine Keeler when she arrived at the Deen house in the South of France in the middle of the scandal. Rupert’s father was just like Rupert, without a scintilla of ambition in his body. He once spent seven days in his room alone trying to remember the combination to his safe, refusing all food and drink. Finally, eureka! The number was 1234.
Rupert Deen was lazy but not too lazy to organize a cruise and invite all his good friends, of which he had many. The fact that the guests had to pony up for the cruise once they were afloat was neither here nor there. One time Rupert went to see Algy because the situation was very bad. Insolvency was knocking rather loudly at his door, so the oilman and ex–Spectator chairman had to throw caution to the wind. The day after, crossing Pont Street, our ex-chairman was almost killed by a speeding but gleaming brand-new Porsche purchased the day before by Rupert Deen.
I met Rupert very long ago, when he was tripping the light fantastic with Lady Charlotte Curzon, just about the time when he was interviewed by a BBC hack about the strikes of the Heath era and when he uttered his most famous words, something about pheasants being bred to be shot and miners being born to live underground. Once repeated by the BBC, his words helped Harold Wilson win a squeaker.
Otherwise, things are hunky-dory. Last week I had dinner with about ten spooks, ex–CIA men and other secret services, and managed to get rather high while listening to some of the tales. Basically they were unloading their frustrations with the Deep State. But aren’t you the Deep State? I asked one of them. I used to be, now I’m retired. According to the spooks, the bad guys are senators McCain and Edwards from the Republican side, all the Democrats, and from the Trump camp Dina Powell, Reince Priebus, and the Kushner son-in-law. The spook favorite: Steve Bannon, who happens to be my No. 1 also.
I imagine the business of spying makes one a bit paranoid at times, and many of the Trump circle were called Saudi and Israeli agents, and yet… Saudis and Israelis are known to have bribed and subverted Washington like no others, and when we think what these two countries are doing and getting away with, I certainly see the spies’ point. Next Monday, May 29, will be John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday, one he obviously did not live to see, thanks to what my spook buddies claim to have been an inside job. I remember that awful day well. JFK was having it off with Liz, Pam, and a French youngster by the name of…better not, she’s still around. The trouble with the French gal was that she would refuse to leave the White House once serviced by the president. Her uncle, Hervé Alphand, was French ambassador to Washington, and believe it or not, he asked me to give her a lecture. (She was a regular visitor to the White House and regularly made a scene when asked to clear the decks.) That’s one assignment I dodged, and soon after she was dispatched back to Paris, where she had a very good time for a short while with a young Taki. Her favorite song went “She wore an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini…”
Well, now we have the Russian question, one invented, according to the spooks, by John Brennan, ex-head of the CIA and a very bad guy. The spies called him a Saudi whore. And they insisted that Dick Cheney has a large mine to his name in the Golan Heights, a very profitable mine. Nothing a piece of shit like Cheney does would surprise me. What does surprise me is how much honesty in media has changed. Inventing that Trump spilled highly classified information in a meeting with top Russian diplomats is now standard procedure for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Then the invention is confirmed by the public editor, one Liz Spayd, in highfalutin and pompous language worthy of any yellow newspaper in Athens or Istanbul. The spooks may be right. Everyone’s a crook over here.
Anthony Horowitz, author of the very successful Alex Rider books (teen novels about a schoolboy spy) and the excellent TV series Foyle’s War, has landed himself in trouble. His offense? The intention to have a black boy as one of the two heroes of a new novel for teenagers. He has accordingly been found guilty of the crime of “cultural appropriation,” one of the direst sins of which a writer today can be guilty. Horowitz, not being black, is not entitled to imagine and create a black character. Just as well nobody told Mark Twain that he wasn”t entitled to do this, or we wouldn”t have Huckleberry Finn, the book out of which, Ernest Hemingway said, all American literature came.
Well, of course, like many in the late evening of life, I think the modern world is crazy, but “cultural appropriation” takes the biscuit; it’s real loony-bin stuff, barking mad. Literature is all about imagining other people, often people very unlike yourself. Horowitz wryly suggests that the implication is that he should restrict himself to writing about 60-year-old London Jewish men. The cultural appropriation (CA for short”I can”t be bothered spelling the words out every time) quarter-wits might say, “Absolutely, you”ve got it at last, Horowitz. In passing, how dare you, as a man getting on in years, imagine”appropriate”the experience of a teenage boy, even a white one, even a Jewish white one?”
One of the best new novels I”ve read in the past year was Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea. McCrea is a young Irishman, and Mrs. Engels was Lizzie Burns, an illiterate, working-class Irish girl who became first the mistress, then eventually the wife, of Friedrich Engels, friend and collaborator of Karl Marx. It is written in the first person, and McCrea has found a wonderfully convincing voice for Lizzie. It is very sympathetically and movingly done. It’s a highly intelligent novel and one that does justice to Lizzie as well as gives the reader a perceptive and sometimes very funny picture of the Marx family.
I loved it, but sadly, I can”t say I”m surprised to have learned that Gavin McCrea has come in for stick from people who maintain that he had no right to imagine Lizzie Burns and, by giving her a voice, appropriate”that is, steal”her experience. No matter that the portrait is sympathetic, even loving. A man is not entitled to impersonate a woman. Lord knows what the CA idiots would say to the stream-of-consciousness soliloquy James Joyce gave to Molly Bloom in “Ulysses.” Well, actually, I can guess, and it’s too depressing.
Male novelists have always imagined women, and female ones have imagined men. That fine historical novelist Mary Renault wrote one novel about Alexander the Great in the voice of a young Persian eunuch. Truly shocking: Eunuchs of the world should have united in protest at such CA. Perhaps there were too few of them to make a din. On the other hand, any Persian eunuch”should there happen to have been one who had read the novel”may have thought that Mary Renault had got it just right. You can”t tell.
How far can this nonsense go? Suppose you write a novel about a serial killer. Quite a few people have done this, Thomas Harris, for example. In creating the grotesque Hannibal Lector, was he guilty of CA, making fiction”and a good deal of money”out of what didn”t belong to him? Suppose you write a novel about Adolf Eichmann. Are you a thief, stealing his experience? As it happens I”ve done that myself, though I gave the Eichmann character a different name in my novel. Should I be ashamed? Of course not. How can you begin to understand murderous Nazis if you don”t imagine how they thought, and felt?
President Mark Zuckerberg.
Your lips better get used to mouthing that name. The King of Facebook has been traveling across the country, visiting quaint locals, quietly laying the groundwork for a future political run.
Zuck isn”t stupid. He saw the effect social media had in landing Donald Trump in the White House. While all the hullabaloo over “fake news” was overblown, Facebook helped break the media stranglehold by making Trump’s popularity more visible.
The individualized algorithm that emphasized personal news curation did exactly what it was supposed to do: It gave extra attention to stories users wanted to read, confirming priors and supporting bias.
If you believed Hillary Clinton was a cadaver of a candidate, liable to overheat and pass out on any given temperate day, the things you read on Facebook only confirmed your conviction.
Immediately following the election, Zuckerberg denied that his social-media giant helped direct the outcome. But a few months later, he came clean with his larger vision for Facebook. “My hope is that more of us will commit our energy to building the long term social infrastructure to bring humanity together,” he wrote in a mini-manifesto. To bring his vision to life, Zuckerberg announced the hiring of 3,000 more employees to police postings for unacceptable material. And just this month, Facebook promised to do a better job suppressing sites “that contain little substantive content and have a large number of disruptive, shocking or malicious ads,” to better cultivate an “informed community.”
On its face, the new model sounds good, right? For a private entity, Facebook is armed with enormous power. The platform, by virtue of its mammoth user base, has the ability to alter the perception of millions. An assurance that Zuckerberg and his execs will use their tool only for truth and the public good should be welcome.
Except it’s not. The vacuous language Zuck and his cronies use to justify their new model is too tepid to be trustworthy. It is corporate speech, the very same dialect used by companies the world over to deflect attention from more nefarious goals.
The rampant anti-Trump bias in Silicon Valley should raise a big red flag for tech CEOs” motivations. In an interview with The New York Times, Evan Williams, founder of Twitter and cofounder of the writing platform Blogger, lamented his role in fostering insta-communication between people.
“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place. I was wrong about that,” he told the paper. Williams hates that the internet caters to the lowest common denominator. When he was reminded that President Trump credited Twitter with helping elect him to the Oval Office, Williams turned distraught. “It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that. If it’s true that he wouldn”t be president if it weren”t for Twitter, then yeah, I”m sorry.”
What’s Williams sorry for? That his creation performed as designed?
Thanks to social media, enough Americans were willing to take a chance on Donald Trump because they realized they weren”t alone in their support. The system worked exactly how it was supposed to, with voters casting ballots after feeding at the digital trough for news.
So why is Silicon Valley reeling from Trump’s victory? Why is the people’s choice so despised by his enablers?